On regular commercial flights, pilots usually greet their passengers from the cockpit. From there, they announce how long the flight will be and the weather conditions at their destination. But recently, one pilot had something even more personal to share. During what looked like an ordinary plane ride, an American Airlines pilot named Jeff Fell addressed his passengers face to face to welcome them to his retirement flight.
In a video that has gone viral on TikTok, Fell can be seen fighting back tears as he gives an emotional message. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard. My name is Jeff Fell, I'm the captain on the flight going to Chicago tonight,” he begins, reading his message from a piece of paper. “I normally don't stand up in front of everybody like this, I usually just stay in the cockpit and talk on the PA.” When his voice breaks for the first time, he asks those listening for forgiveness, as this is his final trip as a pilot after a 32-year career with American Airlines.
Standing at the front of the plane, the pilot makes sure that those at the very end can hear him. After all, he happens to have some very special guests there. “I'd like to acknowledge a group of very important people to me,” Fell says. “Most of them are in the back of the airplane and they're the majority of my family who have come along with me on my retirement flight.”
The passengers, moved by his words, clap and cheer for Fell when he takes a moment to breathe and fight back tears. “Thank you all for coming along with me tonight and celebrating this very memorable time in my life. I love all of you,” Fell says, before addressing his wife directly, thanking her for being his rock for almost his entire career. “I love you, and look forward to the next chapter in our lives,” he says, before closing his speech by welcoming everyone on board once more.
Upon the plane's landing, Fell was greeted by a cannon salute at the airport, bookending the pilot's storied career with the top honor there is for these professionals. You can watch these powerful moments in the videos below.
During what looked like an ordinary plane ride, an American Airlines pilot named Jeff Fell addressed his passengers face to face to welcome them to his retirement flight.
@realjharrison priviliged to have been there for this #americanairlines #retirement #fypシ ♬ original sound – justin again
Upon the plane's landing, Fell was greeted by a cannon salute at the airport, bookending the pilot's storied career.
@realjharrison Replying to @Sara Harrison ♬ Another Love – Tom Odell